Sunlight and moonbeams glimmer on Philadelphia harbor, where The Ben Franklin Yacht glides silently to reveal a new perspective on the cradle of American democracy and replicate the freedom of the open ocean. Recently refurbished, the modern vessel hosts up to 300 guests in long, low decks whose mirrored ceilings flood the space with reflected light and expose pirates who have "Mom" tattoos hidden in their bald spots. A wooden dance floor and bar fuel parties, and knowledgeable guides propel discussion about the city's history from the breezy top deck. The majestic vessel may also be rented out for private parties. The port of departure is within walking distance of other famed sights, such as the Liberty Bell, Constitution Center, and the cherry tree from which George Washington famously crafted his wooden wig. Boarding begins approximately 30 minutes prior to each excursion.
Determined to convert waterways across North America into party corridors, On Cruises deploys its fleet of festivity-ready ships along the rivers and lakes of major cities under the helm of experienced skippers. A host of themed cruises—including a haunted Halloween ghost-ship cruise populated by costumed guests and phantoms in their regular clothes—facilitate floating celebrations, and after-work cruises enable guests to unwind offshore.
American Sailing Tours, featured on Wheretraveler.com, loads citizens onto the good ship Summer Wind for relaxation and education on the Delaware River. The jolly crew handles all the hatch-battening, jib-cutting, and barnacle frying on each excursion. Meanwhile seafarers learn about the Delaware's contributions to Philadelphia history on the History Sail, which embarks once per day, six mornings a week. Customers on the Tropical Sail tap sea-toes to the beat of beach music from the Caribbean, New Orleans, and New Margaritaville two or three times a day depending on the time of year; check the online schedule for an idea of departure dates and times.
Sound Excursions describes their carefully curated group experiences as "field trips for adults." It's easy to see why: every outing takes groups to a new realm of Washington, whether it's the frothy shores of Puget Sound, inland forests and mountains, or tables at Seattle's thriving restaurants. The events held at these diverse locations range from culinary workshops on topics such as sushi-making and moonshine-tasting, to adventurous excursions with whitewater rafting or kayaking, to laid-back themed party cruises. For many outings, luxury transportation is provided.
Where the Wissahickon Creek spills into the Schuylkill River, Philadelphia Canoe Club’s 18th-century mill stands next to a yard full of colorful boats. Each year, more than 300 guests take these kayaks into the water and flat-paddle down the scenic, tree-lined shores or head into the whitewater rapids downstream. Whatever their adventure, they maneuver their craft with confidence because Philadelphia Canoe Club’s certified instructors have instructed them through the fundamentals of boating and water safety, as they have since 1905.
Captain Michael Bandera and first mate Audrey Rosenberg have a lot in common, but few of those threads is as strong as their common love of sailing. Sailing together since 1991, the pair explored the coast of New Jersey for seven years before deciding to open Barnegat Bay Sailing Charters. Today, they continue to lead charters, and also teach American Sailing Association?certification courses and specialized sailing lessons for people of all experience levels. They even earned a 2010 ASA award for Outstanding School.
Aboard the Margarita, a sloop-rigged Catalina 30 sailboat, groups gaze at the New Jersey shore at sunset or midday during one of many scheduled charters. When not taking in views on deck, guests can lounge in the plush cabin with a bathroom and refrigerator full of cold bottles of water, in case a situation demands bribing Jersey's pirate bands of retired rock stars. The team also rents out sailing boats for seaborne sojourns.